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Experts warn that meat could soon be out of the menu due to climate change  

By Judith Akolo

As the impacts of climate change continue to be felt across the world, pressure on water supply and pasture for livestock is becoming evident. Experts now say meat could soon be out of the menu with the fall back position being a shift in culinary tastes to insect consumption. 

Speaking during the 13th Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security, a Senior Scientist at the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology Dr. Chrysantus Mbi Tanga called for the inclusing of insects in the African food systems.

Dr. Tanga who is also the Head of Insects for Food and Other User Progrmas at ICIPE  posited that owing to the challenges arising from climate change coupled by dwindling water and pasture for livestock, "insects remain the best source and alternative for meat since the current meat production models are not sustainable."

During the meeting also attended by nutrition experts drawn from across the continent as well as policy planners, Dr. Tanga said that insects are also seen to offer great potential for animal feed and organic fertilizer production. An expanded use of insects for livestock feed has the potential to release for human consumption, as well as reduce the import bill for soya and soya based edible oils.

They are vouching for utilizing indigenous knowlege on edible insects in order to encourage the integration of insects into the food systems, as a source of food in the National Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan (NAIPs).

"Concerted efforts are needed to promote the use of insects in ways that are culturally acceptable," says a communique released at the end of the ADFN and adds, "effort should be made to include rebranding insects and portraying them in a positive light."

 Among issues of discussion at the ADNS was the need for social protection in order to enhance the resilience of vulnerable social groups. This will also help in ensuring that ecosystems are protected from encroachment as people struggle to survive on limited resources.

The experts note that nutrition and social protection are interlinked because "malnutrition tends to accentuate vulnerabilities and perpetuates poverty, which then calls for more social protection interventions that help in fighting it by reaching underserved populations, addressing immediate needs and building resilience."

The experts are calling on African governments to ensure that when designing social protection interventions, they also contextualize the local realities, since when the main focus of social protection programmes zeroes on poverty eradication, "they often fail to adopt a holistic approach considering poverty is multifaceted, and can be multi-layered." 

They aver that since the poor are not a homogeneous population, and there is the need to design specific social protection instruments that target and address specific needs, noting that income security does not equate to food security and food security does not equate to nutrition security. "It is, therefore, recommended that countries build social protection systems that are peoplecentred, and food security and nutrition sensitive."

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The youth are an integral part of society that can drive agriculture transformation

by Judith Akolo

African Union member states are being advised to take advantage of the youth bulge and utilize them in agriculture transformation.

A Food and Nutrition systems expert Dr. Laila Lokosang says that the youth constitute the largest population on the African continent hence they posses the human capital that can aid in agriculture transformation. "Today 1.2 billion of the world population is between the ages of 15 and 24 years," he says and adds, "Africa has the youngest population with nearly 88% of them living in developing nations, particularly rural sub-saharan Africa and South-Central and South East Asia."

Speaking on the topic “Role of youth as human capital agents towards transformative and resilient agro-food systems in Africa”, Dr. Lokosang who spoke at the 13th Africa Day of Food and Nutrition Security (ADNS) said that empowering the youth through investing more in technology, digitalization, innovation, and data availability will aid in the youth in aiding agriculture transformation.

In his paper, Pathways for Leveraging the Potential of the youth in the Agro-Food Systems Transformation Agenda, at the ADNS Dr. Lokosang arugues that if the youth are allowed to play an active role in the food systems transformation agenda, this will enable the youth to leverage on and access opportunities such as green jobs across the food value chains.

The Senior Technical Advisor to the Commisioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environement at the African Union Commision, says that while the Malabo Declaration in 2014 set a target of creating job opportunities for at least 30% of the youth in agriculture value chain, member states are still lagging behind. 

He is urging for policy interventions that ensure that their is adequate investment in digital technologies in the agriculture sector, as well as mechanisation to make agriculture attractice hence be able to attract the youth into the sector, "the youth are tech survy and their role in the sector using the digital space is of utmost importance," says Dr. Lokosang.

Among the interventions being suggested by Dr. Lokosang to be able to attract youth into the agriculture sector include; establishing mechanisms that enable the youth to be agropreneurs, incentivise and promote corporate youth-led agribusiness investment, open market opportunities for youth producers of agricultural commodities, establishe knowlege platforms and communities of practice for the youth to share experience in sucessful practice, "which will encourage fellow youth to get into agribusiness," says Dr. Lokosang, the Senior Technical Advisor on Food Systems.

Dr. Lokosang is calling for the need for member states to support the participation of women and youth in gainful agribusiness opportunties. He argues that there is a nned to make "women’s empowerment an integral part of social protection programmes," he says and adds that "Improving woman socio-economic status and educational status enhances the benefits of social protection interventions, and improves the nutritional status of the household."

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The media globally has been asked to help raise awareness on Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

By Judith Akolo

One of the greatest challenges is that of communicating antimicrobial resistance as it is thought to be something that is complicated and a complex.

The Head of the Antimicrobial Stewardship and Awareness Unit at the World Health Organisation (WHO) Thomas Joseph says the media has a big role to simplify the messages, clarify, “to make it common knowledge, common understanding the same way it happened in HIV in which so much was achieved through simplifying complex messages about the disease.”

Speaking the second annual global media forum on AMR in the lead up to the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) 2022, Joseph said that the same should be done with communicating Antimicrobial resistance.

In his presentation, Joseph said that in 2019, it was estimated that almost 5 million deaths each year associated with bacterial AMR, “including 1.27 million deaths being directly caused by it,” he said and added, “It is a leading cause of death and is growing.”

Lower respiratory tract infections, like pneumonia, accounted for more than 1.5 million deaths associated with antimicrobial resistance in 2019, making it the most burdensome infectious syndrome of our time.

The burden of AMR he said is greatest in low-resource setting, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, “making it the most burdensome infectious syndrome of our time,” said Joseph.

The Head of Antimicrobial Stewardship and Awareness Unit at WHO said AMR is not only a global public health problem, but also an issue of health equity and greatly impacts socioeconomic development.

He notes that drug resistance does not only affect bacterial infections, it is also affecting medicines used in treatment of fungal, and parasitic infections, such as HIV, malaria and Tuberculosis, “this are huge public health burden in the world, we are at risk of losing the gains we have made in combating, HIV, Malaria and TB.”

“A person with a drug-resistant infection is more likely to be sick and absent from work and family commitments, for longer, and require more expensive medicines and medical care,” he warns and adds, “This has major implications on health-care costs and productivity, both for patients and their caregivers, as well as more broadly on the health system and national economy.”

While urging the media to report more on AMR and simplify the messaging, Joseph painted the grim picture of the situation in developing countries as the drug-resistant infections often require the use of second or even third-line treatments, “which are usually more expensive, not widely available and can cause serious side-effects like organ failure.” He notes.

While modern medicine is dependent on the ability to prevent and treat infections using antibiotics, including during joint replacement surgery, organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy and the treatment of chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes, Joseph warns that if antibiotics and other antimicrobials lose their effectiveness, “we lose the ability not only to treat infections, but also to manage these other health conditions.”

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) emergence and spread is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials to treat or prevent infections in humans, animals, and plants.

He advises that antibiotics are lifesaving, but they should only be taken when they have been prescribed by a health worker for bacterial infections and notes that unnecessary exposure to antibiotics, such as when they are prescribed and used for conditions that are not caused by bacteria, like colds and flues, allows antibiotic-resistant strains to develop.

He is calling for more awareness on treatment of ailments saying that some infections in the community could be caused by viruses, “which do not respond to antibiotics,” says Joseph. He notes that each year hundreds of millions of cases of diarrhoea in humans are treated with antimicrobials yet universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene could reduce this by 60%.

Having universal access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, as well as good infection prevention and control measures, such as hand washing and vaccination, are vital in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). These measures reduce the likelihood of infection in the first place, so that antibiotics don't need to be used.

It is important for all people everywhere, not just health care professionals, to be aware and have basic knowledge and understanding of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), so that they can play their part in minimizing its emergence and spread.


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World Health Organisation now warns that antimicrobial resistance is a major cause of death as well as morbidity

By Judith Akolo

Antimicrobial resistance is is becoming a major concern globally with studies showing that it is directly causing over 1.27 deaths annually.

According to Dr Haileyesus Getahun, the Director in charge of Global Coordination and Partnership on AMR, and Director, Quadripartite Joint Secretariat on AMR at World Health Organization (WHO), antimicrobial resistance is also indirectly causing 4.95 million deaths annually.

“The greatest burden is in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia,” said Dr. Getahun, and adds that, these are the lower middle-income countries and small island developing states.

Dr. Getahun notes that the diagnosis of bacterial infections is not well developed in the global South because of few diagnostics available and very expensive, “for example we have diagnostic tools that can differentiate between a flu and a bacterial infection, such that if it is a flu such a patient may not benefit from antibiotics, so having such would be beneficial but it is still non-existent in most of the countries in the global South.”

He is calling for proper training of health workers to ensure proper antimicrobial stewardship.

The economic burden as a result of drug resistant infections will run into trillions of dollars, he says, with studies indicating that US$ 1.2 may be needed in additional health expenditure per year by 2050.

“With up to 24 million additional people falling into extreme poverty by the year 2030,” he says and adds, “most of who will be in the low-income countries.”

Noting that antimicrobials are shared between human, animals and plants, “causing an interface of the challenge hence the correlation of transmission of resistant bacteria between food producing animals and humans processing the animals, with antimicrobial resistance having increased in pigs, chicken and cattle.”

The main drivers of antimicrobial resistance is the misuse of antimicrobials is the main cause of antimicrobial resistance, less water sanitation and hygiene that results into infections that require antimicrobials is increasing resistance.

“We cannot address antimicrobial resistance by only looking at one sector alone, we need a multi-sectoral approach through one health, which is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants and the wider environment,” says Dr. Getahun.


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